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Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Drafting a post presence ideal for Cavaliers

By Ryan Feldman, ESPN Stats & Info

The Cleveland Cavaliers found their franchise point guard, Kyrie Irving, in the 2011 NBA Draft. Here are some areas the Cavaliers might look to bolster through their picks in this year's draft.

OVERALL OFFENSE
The Cavaliers were the second-worst shooting team in the NBA this season at 42 percent from the field. Only the Charlotte Bobcats had a lower field-goal percentage. The Cavs scored just 92.3 points per game, the sixth-fewest in the league.

POST-UP OFFENSE
Cleveland was the most inefficient post-up team in the NBA this season. The Cavaliers averaged just 0.69 points per post-up play, which ranked last.

The Cavaliers shot 36 percent on post-up plays, ahead of only the Milwaukee Bucks, and scored just 346 points from the post, which ranked third-worst in the NBA.

DEFENSE AROUND THE BASKET
The Brooklyn Nets were the only team that recorded fewer blocked shots per game this season than the Cavaliers. The Nets, Bobcats and Sacramento Kings were the only teams that allowed a higher field-goal percentage than the Cavs.

The Cavs also allowed the sixth-most points in the paint and fifth-most second-chance points, so adding some size and a defensive force down low could be a priority for Cleveland.

TOP DRAFT TARGETS
Based on their statistical weaknesses, the perfect scenario for the Cavaliers would be to draft a player at No. 4 who could be a defensive presence down low and a post-up threat on the offensive end.

A 7-footer who can improve the team’s shot-blocking, keep teams from scoring around the basket, and open up the Cavs offense would be ideal. But which players would fit that mold once Anthony Davis is off the board?

After Davis, the top big men prospects include Kansas’s Thomas Robinson, Connecticut’s Andre Drummond, Illinois’s Meyers Leonard, and North Carolina’s John Henson and Tyler Zeller.

Of those players, Leonard ranks as the most-efficient post-up player. He averaged 1.05 points per post-up play and shot 53 percent on shots in the post. Virginia’s Mike Scott is the only draft prospect who was more efficient in the post this season.

Robinson, Drummond, Henson and Zeller all ranked outside the top 175 of the 488 players with at least 50 post-up plays this season. Not a single draft prospect had fewer points per post-up play than Drummond, who ranked 474th.

Defensively, no draft prospect ranks better than Henson. Henson allowed the third-fewest points per play (0.62) in the nation last year (min. 200 plays).

Robinson ranked 11th and Drummond 32nd in that group; at the other end, Leonard, the tallest and most-efficient post player of the bunch, ranked 251st.

Henson and Drummond are the best defensive prospects in terms of protecting the rim.

They each ranked in the top 15 in the country in blocked shots; Leonard, Zeller and Robinson all ranked outside of the top 50.

Statistical support for this story from NBA.com.

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